Clauser, Suzanne Phillips

Born: August 25, 1929
Died: April 11, 2016

Ohio connection: Former Resident

Yellow Springs

Suzanne P. Clauser was born and grew up in a suburb near New York City. She attended Indiana University and was graduated in 1951 with a degree in American and British literature. In the same year, she married Charles Clauser, a graduate student finishing a Ph.D. in physical anthropology. In 1954 her husband was awarded a Fulbright Grant and the Clausers spent ten months in Burma and Rangoon. Eventually, the Clausers settled in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and in the early 1960’s, Mrs. Clauser drew on her Asian experiences for her first successful writing effort, a travel reminiscence of India published in Blackwood’s, a British literary journal.

After being published in Blackwood’s, Mrs. Clauser began to write scripts for the Bonanza television series. Rod Serling, who came to Yellow Springs to teach a writing course at his Alma Mater, Antioch College, helped her sell her first script to Bonanza in 1964. During the next eight years, she supplied Bonanza with material regularly. By the time the series ceased production in 1972, Bonanza had accepted 13 Clauser scripts and produced 11.

Her first novel, A Girl Named Sooner, was published by Doubleday and Company in 1972. It was well received and Mrs. Clauser was soon at work on its adaption to a full-length television movie. Sooner was shot on location in a small Southern Indiana town and aired in June of 1975. It received very high ratings as well as endorsements from the National Educational Association and the National Council of Churches.

Suzanne Clauser also wrote several highly regarded, full-length plays including Pioneer Woman (1974), The Family Nobody Wanted  (1974), Grandpa and Frank (1977), a four-hour adaption of Alcott’s Little Women (1978), and The Pride of Jesse Hallam (1981), a story about adult functional illiterates which won an award for the best original television play for 1981.

Suzanne Clauser was a founder and served on the Board of The Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she and her husband resided. In addition to being an award-winning writer of TV movies and miniseries, Clauser also created her own hourly primetime series. Her scripts attracted a lengthy list of stars such as William Shatner, Johnny Cash, Jane Alexander, and Henry Fonda. The Clausers made travels, extensively, in China, India, the Pacific and throughout Southeast Asia. They once lived in Rangoon and Upper Burma, where parts of her novel East of Mandalay take place.

Suzanne Clauser passed away peacefully in her home in Yellow Springs, Ohio, on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Western Heritage Award for Best Television Western Fiction, 1974, for Pioneer Woman; award for best television drama from Population Institute, 1975, for The Family Nobody Wanted.